Louis Willemse's Pro-Flex Pivot Story
I was born with fibular hemimelia, so my right leg was 5cm shorter than the left and I had a deformed ankle. Various operations when I was around 6 years old were not successful in lengthening the leg. I managed for 55 years with a built-up shoe, living a very active lifestyle being a cattle and sheep farmer in South Africa and NSW, where I spent a lot of time working in rugged terrain. With additional pressure on my ankle as a chopper pilot, on horseback, walking and working cattle yards, as well as undertaking recreational activities like mountain climbing, water skiing and swimming, the ankle had had its use-by date. It was becoming weaker and increasingly painful.
About five years ago I decided to try and have the painful and weakening ankle fixed. I never thought about amputation until the specialists mentioned it as an alternative. After about a year of research, I was quite excited to embark on this new adventure 😊.
My first prosthetic leg was fitted two months after amputation. I had my chopper licence and was flying again within three months after that. With the help and support of my great prosthetists, family, and friends, I was back working cattle. I was able to comfortably walk 3km at a time without pain, go swimming, kayaking and gardening within the first year. It is really important to set specific goals and timelines!
Over the years as an amputee, I have owned five different prosthetic feet. Today, I am wearing a Pro-Flex Pivot foot with Unity, which is my favourite prosthetic foot for everyday use. I even prefer it to the three different microprocessor feet that I have trialled in the past. The Pro-Flex Pivot has the smoothest rollover without losing energy in the toe at push-off. Wearing the prosthetic foot with an Activa liner and Iceross Sleeve, the Unity provides a continuous vacuum to reduce any pivoting in the socket and help keep it well connected. At my request, my prosthetist was able to fit the Össur Torsion Shock Adapter onto the Pro-Flex Pivot foot for shock absorption. This was to help me more comfortably walk around my property and in the community, especially on uneven terrain, footpaths and in small spaces. This leg solution has provided me with enough comfort to be able to do what I need to do every day, around 10,000 steps per day for exercise and fitness.
I am happy with prosthetic technology enabling me to do most of the activities that I used to do and things I want to do in semi-retirement on the Queensland coast. Life as an amputee is an exciting and challenging adventure! A change is as good as a holiday 😊.
I like the simplicity of wearing the Pro-Flex Pivot foot. It does not require adjustments and there are no electronic parts that need charging, but I still have a foot that is technologically advanced to provide me with the freedom to walk normally. It’s easy to just “get up and go”!
On top of that, I now regularly receive comments on my cool, good-looking leg which is something that never happened before I began wearing the Pro-Flex Pivot, Unity, Torsion look!